Fixing Windows Update – manual installation

Updates repeatedly failing

For some months I have been struggling with Windows 10 Updates repeatedly downloading, installing, failing and reverting to the previous version.  This was infuriating, as Windows was slow and would often restart when my back was turned for a few minutes, meaning that I had to wait an hour or more before I could use the computer again.

There is no indication why it was failing. I’d been running Windows 10 since it first came out, upgrading from Windows 7.  Stupidly, when I first installed Windows 10, I decided to install the ‘N’ version, which excludes the media feature pack.  I had to add this later in order to get USB connections to cameras and other image-related functions to work correctly.  Of course after years of installing various software, hardware and peripherals, it is possible that a library somewhere had been corrupted.

Google came up with many suggestions, but either they didn’t work (like running various checking programs) or they seemed either too obvious and trivial or too complex and risky. The most sensible suggestion seemed to be to go for a complete reinstall of Windows, but I was wary in case I would then need to spend days restoring my setup and apps.  But fortunately it is very simple to reinstall Windows  without losing your current files and apps, so I am putting this here to help others in the same position.

The solution

Firstly, download and install Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool from the following link:

When it has downloaded, choose
Upgrade Now.

You can choose to keep all your files and apps.  It is probably no slower than a Windows Update, but it certainly seems to have fixed my update problem  I’m now running the November 2019 version 1909 of Windows 10 and so far it is looking good.  My PC seems to have all the files and apps (although I had backed everything up first, of course).

You can use the same tool to download the ISO (i.e. a disk image) or create bootable media so you only need to do it once, and have the bootable media for repairs or possible Clean Install.

Note that this is a full and complete new copy, rather than the patched-up version created by Windows update.  Given the repeated update failure, I felt that I should keep an eye out for problems with device drivers.  Windows proudly installs device drivers for almost every conceivable peripheral.  This is an amazing achievement, but sometimes the drivers are not optimal for certain devices, for example failing to initialise special features of a scanner, and you may have to use the manufacturer’s device installation tool to restore their own device drivers.

Have I had any problems?

One thing I have noticed is that some of the Outlook folders have become unindexed and a couple of sub-folders in my inbox seem empty, so perhaps Windows has moved these to a new location.  It’s not a massive problem but I will need to deal with it.

Window Media Pack

Videos not playing

I noticed that videos on the BBC website would no longer play.  I’m not entirely surprised as it’s likely that media feature pack (which is excluded from the N versions of Windows that I have installed) would be updated at some point, and it seems quite possible that this was causing my problems with the Windows update.

Note that if you look up ‘media feature pack’ on the Microsoft Website, you will be told how to download the media feature pack for each new version of Windows 10N except the latest release, 1909 (November 2019).  What gives?

A new feature in Windows Settings
Further probing revealed that there is an important new feature available under the Windows 10 Settings menu, but it is hardly in an obvious place.  This allows you to add many features to Windows, including the Media Pack.

Open Settings, and go to Apps.
Under Apps and Features, select Optional Features

Click Add a feature, and from the drop-down select Windows Media Player

This will now download and install, but to complete the installation, you have to restart your computer.  It will then churn for a while and after that, the new Media feature will be installed.  Very neat!  Website videos now play again.

There are quite a few other useful-looking features for those who want to dabble.


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